May 15, 2013


Applications now available for Classroom Innovation Grants

Details were recently released about a new grant opportunity funded by the 2013 Legislature. House Bill 1164 included a one-time appropriation of $500,000 to provide classroom innovation grants to public school teachers, public school districts, and Education Service Agencies. The purpose of the grant is to provide funding for classroom innovation to allow classroom teachers to utilize technology in creative and innovative ways, in order to enhance the learning and achievement of students.

Public K-12 teachers, school districts and Education Service Agencies are eligible to apply for the grants, which will be awarded through a competitive process. The review committee will determine award winners based on the criteria outlined in the application and scoring rubric.

The maximum grant amount is $25,000. All applications must be emailed to by July 8 at 5 p.m. (Central Time).

Grant awards will be announced by Aug. 1. Funds must be expended by June 30, 2014. Teachers must go through their school district in order to receive the funds. All signatures are required for all applicants.

For more information, contact Amy Fowler, South Dakota Department of Education, (605) 773-6898.

Summer Reading Challenge promotes reading at the right level

The South Dakota Department of Education recently launched ReadSD!, a reading challenge aimed at curbing summer learning loss. With the help of online resources, teachers, librarians and parents will be able to help students identify books and other materials that are at an appropriate level of difficulty and aligned to the students’ interests.

This challenge is unique in that it does not ask students to read as many books as possible, but rather promotes reading engaging material at an appropriate level for each individual child. By entering a Lexile measure and specified interests into an online “Find a Book” tool, students can create a customized reading list with challenging, engaging titles.

Teachers, if you know your students’ Lexile measures, you can share that information with parents in advance of the summer break.

Summer learning loss is a primary concern when it comes to early literacy. You can help combat summer learning loss by promoting this challenge in your classroom, and sharing information about the challenge with parents and families. Visit the ReadSD! webpage for more ways to promote the challenge in your school or community.

Common Core shifts can help teachers outline instruction

South Dakota’s new content standards feature six major shifts for math, and six for English language arts. These shifts are the center upon which the standards are based, and highlight the differences between the old and new standards.

Educators should be mindful of the shifts as they guide student learning throughout the year.

A quick synopsis of each shift is outlined below. For more detail on the shifts, visit the Council of Chief State School Officers Common Core webpage (

Math Shift #1: FOCUS
Teachers concentrate time and energy in the math classroom on key grade-level concepts. This focus is necessary so students can begin to develop strong foundational knowledge and deep conceptual understanding early on in their academic careers. This focus will enable students to transfer mathematical skills and understanding across concepts and grades later on.

Math Shift #2: COHERENCE
Learning is carefully connected within and across grade levels so students are building new understanding onto previously laid foundations. This shift will help students understand how math concepts are all connected and build upon one another, ensuring that students are comfortable taking on new concepts.

Math Shift #3: FLUENCY
Students acquire speed and accuracy with simple calculations through structured class time. Through mastering the predictable procedures of mathematics, students gain insights into the structure of math, and can apply appropriate procedures flexibly to solve problems correctly.

Students demonstrate a solid and thorough mastery of math concepts, smoothly operating within multiple concepts prior to moving on. Such deep conceptual understanding is critical for student success in later grades, and goes beyond isolated facts and methods, understanding why a concept is important and the context in which it is useful.

Math Shift #5: APPLICATION
Teachers provide opportunities for students to apply math in real-world situations at all grade levels. The process of modeling is key in improving decisions as well as linking classroom math to everyday situations. Modeling helps students choose and use appropriate math to understand situations.

Students are intensely engaged in both authentic practice and extended application of math. Teachers create opportunities for students to make use of complex skills through extended application of math.

Students read a true balance of informational and literary texts. This shift isn’t about making sure students can read technical manuals; it’s about building integrated knowledge across grade levels beginning in a student’s early years.

Students build knowledge about the world and various content areas through text rather than the teacher. This shift aims to build students’ background knowledge and vocabulary, so they’re able to read and fully comprehend a rich variety of texts.

Students closely read central, grade-appropriate texts around which instruction is centered. This shift ensures that students are constantly challenging themselves to improve reading levels, and provides them with the proper supports to do so.

Students engage in rich and thoughtful evidence-based conversations about text. Students will be able to use and interpret text; students will engage in thoughtful discussion that allows them to construct meaning from a text on their own.

Student writing emphasizes use of evidence from sources to inform or make an argument. This shift pushes teachers to move away from writing prompts without context, with the goal that students can work with a common body of text-based evidence more like what they might encounter in the workforce.

Students are constantly building the transferable vocabulary needed to process increasingly complex texts. Academic vocabulary increases reading comprehension and builds students’ background knowledge, which means they’ll be able to read increasingly complex texts. Teachers will strive to consciously use academic vocabulary in context during class discussions.

School Wellness Policy Summit to be held June 6

A School Wellness Policy Summit will be held June 6 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Central), at Cedar Shores Resort in Chamberlain. The summit is designed to assist school districts in updating their school wellness policy and to provide tools for effective implementation.

School districts are required to have a model wellness policy as outlined in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFK Act). The HHFK Act strengthens existing requirements for wellness policies. The new requirements are to be implemented by the 2013-14 school year and will be assessed as part of the administrative review for the National School Lunch Program.

Meals and mileage will be reimbursed for a team of up to three people from each district. It is recommended that one of the team members be an administrator or a school board member. Click here for more information or to register. The School Wellness Policy summit is sponsored by Team Nutrition, in the South Dakota Department of Education and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Contact Mary Kirk, Team Nutrition Coordinator, at (605) 773-4718 for more information.

Brookings team places at National ProStart Competition

Congratulations to the Brookings High School ProStart Management team and their instructor, Joline Dunbar, for their fourth-place finish at the National ProStart Competition!

ProStart is a nationwide high school curriculum developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). It helps prepare high school students for leadership positions in the workplace by teaching skills which are crucial in any place of employment. Combining hands-on learning in the classroom with mentored work experience, the program provides education on culinary skills, safety, inventory, cost controls, customer service, business math, and other practical business management skills. ProStart serves approximately 95,000 students in 47 states, Guam and U.S. military bases. In South Dakota, 15 school districts offer the ProStart program.

DOE partners with the South Dakota Retailers Association to promote, oversee and advance this program within South Dakota. It aligns with the Hospitality & Tourism Career Cluster.

South Dakota student to lead national CTSO

Carter Christensen, of Sioux Falls, was elected national president during last month’s national DECA convention. Christensen, a Lincoln High School senior, will serve full-time for the next year as the organization’s student leader.

The career and technical student organization has approximately 200,000 high school and collegiate members worldwide and prepares students for careers in business, marketing and financing. Like all CTSOs, DECA places a big emphasis on community involvement.

Sioux Valley teacher receives Art Educator of the Year award
Erica Howell has been named the South Dakota Association of Art Education’s 2013 Art Educator of the Year. Howell has been active within the South Dakota Art Education Association and The National Art Education Association.

She will receive her award during a special presentation at the SDAEA state conference in September. Congratulations, Erica!


CTE 101 Training
May 31, Rapid City

CTE 101 training fulfills the requirement for secondary teachers to become South Dakota Career & Technical Education (CTE) Qualified teachers for approved CTE programs.

Those teachers who are 1) new to teaching in approved CTE programs, 2) in their early years of teaching (either from teacher preparation programs or via alternative certification) or 3) who teach career or technical courses that are being added to approved CTE programs, need to take this one-day qualification training.

The training will explore CTE initiatives, resources and program requirements. Attendees will receive a certificate of completion, CTE Qualification certificate and are eligible for Continuing Education hours.

Participants should bring a laptop computer equipped with Internet Explorer and Microsoft Excel.

To register, go to:

School Wellness Policy Summit
June 6, Chamberlain

The School Wellness Policy Summit is designed to assist school districts in updating their school wellness policy and to provide tools for effective implementation.

School districts are required to have a model wellness policy as outlined in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFK Act). The HHFK Act strengthens existing requirements for wellness policies. The new requirements are to be implemented by the 2013-14 school year and will be assessed as part of the administrative review for the National School Lunch Program.

Meals and mileage will be reimbursed for a team of up to three people from each district. It is recommended that one of the team members be an administrator or a school board member. Contact Mary Kirk, Team Nutrition Coordinator, at (605) 773-4718 for more information.

21st Century Community Learning Centers Conference
June 17-18, Pierre

The annual 21st CCLC Conference is once again being held at the Ramkota in Pierre, with a theme of Finding Joy in Life and Literacy. Keynote presenters this year are Dr. Stuart Brown, Denise Brennan-Nelson, Jacquie McTaggart and Carrie Brockway.

The cost is $50 for educators who are not affiliated with a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant program, and registration is due by May 24. Attendees can earn up to 13.5 Continuing Education Units or one hour of graduate credit from the University of South Dakota.

Harvest of the Month training
July 9-10 in Sioux Falls OR July 23-24 in Rapid City

Learn how to organize a Harvest of the Month Team for your school or community. Attendees will prepare recipes, create lessons and evaluation, discuss food-to-table demonstrations, and learn about growing and transplanting.

Participating teams are also eligible to apply for a $500 Team Nutrition mini-grant for implementation of a Harvest of the Month project. CEUs are available. Go to for details on how to register, or contact Mary Kirk for more information.

School Library Boot Camp
July 21-24, Vermillion

The second annual School Library Boot Camp will be held on the campus of University of South Dakota, with the theme of Multiple Literacies in the 21st Century School Library. Graduate credit is available. For more information, go to:

CTE Conference
July 29-30, Mitchell

The 2013 conference will be all new – New location! New format! New schedule!

The conference is designed for CTE teachers, Technical Institute instructors, school administrators and school counselors. This year’s event will be held on the campus of Mitchell Technical Institute. The annual CTE conference provides attendees with innovative and rigorous, cluster-specific training that can be implemented as the school year begins. Join your colleagues to learn, network and grow.

The conference is held as a partnership activity between the South Dakota Department of Education and the South Dakota Association for Career & Technical Education. For more information, including registration, schedule, call for presentations, and more, visit

10th Annual Indian Education Summit
Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, Chamberlain

This year’s Indian Education Summit will be held at the Cedar Shore Resort, located on the Missouri River near Chamberlain and Oacoma. This is the 10th consecutive year the summit is being held, bringing together partners from across South Dakota and the U.S. to learn and share ideas and insights about the educational needs of American Indian students. Many sessions will be geared for K-12; many others will emphasize preschool and higher education strands.


Mitchell teacher sees relationships as key to success with students

Veteran educator Tammy Fuerst has spent all of her 24 years teaching in the same place she attended elementary school as a child. The Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary teacher even remembers feeling a pull to the profession during her time as a student in Mitchell.

“I always loved school,” Fuerst said. “So I thought, ‘If I love school, why not be a teacher so I can go to school every day of my life?’”

Fuerst is a looping teacher. She gets new students as first graders and stays with them until the end of their second grade year. One of her biggest challenges, particularly as the state is implementing new math and ELA standards, is learning the standards and curriculum at both levels, as opposed to just one grade level.

“I find that when planning my instruction, I have to look both ahead and behind at the same time,” Fuerst said.

Fuerst sees definite advantages to having her students for two years though, and she is quick to point those out. The number-one benefit – which in itself outweighs all the challenges – is relationships.

“I love saying to the kids at the end of first grade, ‘See you in second grade.’ I also form great relationships with the parents. I really get to know both the students and their parents, and they get to know me. They know what my expectations are. They know how I communicate and what to look for in my newsletter or during the summer, and that enables us to just hit the ground running at the beginning of that second grade year. There’s less review time. If kids know you care, they give more. Those relationships have the biggest impact on learning.”

Because she has the students for both first and second grades, she is constantly looking at the data on how they’re doing – and to gauge how she’s doing or see if there’s anything she might need to adjust.

“I love watching kids learn how to read and then fall in love with reading,” Fuerst said. “And I know that when I send my kids off to third grade, their foundations have to be solid in order for them to be successful.”